I recently received an email newsletter with the following header:

To view this message as a web page, click here.
To view this message in French, click here.
Pour voir ce message en français, cliquez ici.

I found it very odd, however, to read the "Click here for the French language version" in both languages, particularly as they link to the same page. In 8 years working in translation and L10n/i18n, I've never seen this done.

What would be the purpose in doing this? What possible UX advantage have I been overlooking all these years? Or is it, as I suspect, just a mistake or a manager's misunderstanding of the purpose of that header?

  • Did the English "French" link actually go to the French site or the English one? I would honestly be unsure.
    – Ben Brocka
    Apr 3, 2012 at 16:06
  • @BenBrocka Yes sir!
    – msanford
    Apr 3, 2012 at 17:13
  • Politeness mostly. If I can't read french I can still nonetheless see that there's a link there but I don't know what the link is for. That's a frustrating experience.
    – Erics
    Apr 8, 2012 at 5:06

1 Answer 1


I suspect it's a mistake and that the English one was supposed to be for the "In English" site.

The strong advantage of making the "continue in X language" prompts in their native language is Scanability. I can scan down a long list of languages and the languages I can actually read stick out to me; the rest are gibberish or are at least recognizable as something I can't (completely) read. This makes it very easy for English readers to catch the English translation and the French readers to catch the French translation.

Providing both languages harms scanability and also introduces clutter; imagine if you had 50 language options and yo decided to describe each in English AND the native language! Furthermore it's a pretty well established convention online that you can click your language in a menu somewhere and your page will be served in that language; it's not uncommon to see English/Espanol/Français links in the header/footer of a multilingual site.

Finally, Presenting the French option in English doesn't really benefit anyone, does it? If I can't read French why do I care that there's a French option? Writing in a language some of your audience can't read is a good thing in this case; they immediately recognize the language(s) they can use and ignore all others.

  • Precisely why I have always produced alternate-language links (of this class) in only the alternate language.
    – msanford
    Apr 3, 2012 at 17:15

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